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King University News :: King Professors Walk to Find Solution

It was a quick conversation that earned King College faculty members, Dr. Andy Simoson and Dr. John Dodge the lead article in the September 2012 issue of “College Mathematics Journal.” Both Simoson, who teaches Mathematics, and Dodge, who teaches Economics, live close to the campus and walk each day to and from. One day in passing, Dodge asked Simoson the question, “How can I get equal exercise in each leg while taking single or double steps.”

“Math is one of the hardest subjects to come up with a question, so everyone can equally understand it,” said Simoson. “John’s question happened to be one that had never been asked before, which lead us the opportunity to pursue it.”

The duo started researching the subject and possible answers in April 2012. While the equation is complex to figure out, the end result is switching from side-to-side on staircases, which has become known as the Ben-Hur Staircase Climb.

“We researched a wide variety of famous staircases throughout the world,” Dodge said. “From the Titanic to the Pyramids of Egypt, we wanted a variety of stairs in height and width to run our equation.”

Simoson calls Dodge’s question a diamond, because of the complexity of the subject matter and the ease of finding the answer.  The study proved that various step sizes will give a particular person the required number of steps to obtain equal exercise in both legs. While the results of the staircase climb proved the number of steps to get equal amounts of exercise, Dodge thinks of it in a simpler way.

“Getting the results we wanted was one percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,” he joked. “It really was an honor to work with someone like Andy and to become academically published made it even better.”

“It’s amazing that we’re able to figure out equations like the staircase climb through such a standard approach,” Simoson commented.  “We considered it an honor to even become academically published.”

Both Dodge and Simoson considered it a real treat to work together, especially being in two different academic disciplines. Both men had a vision and truly wanted to dig deep and find the answer to their burning question and they were successful.

“Being surrounded by such a rich learning environment like King really provides us the opportunity to work together as a faculty members and form relationships with other staff members throughout various departments,” Simoson said. “You couldn’t find something like that anywhere else but King College.”

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